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Last Updated: Saturday, 31 July, 2004, 12:35 GMT 13:35 UK
Vieira tipped to stay
Exclusive by Andrew McKenzie

Arsenal skipper Patrick Vieira
Patrick Vieira has no desire to leave Arsenal, according to a close confidante of the player.

Spanish reports say Vieira is set for Real Madrid, while the player has remained silent amid the growing speculation over his future.

But Chantal Stanley, who has known Vieira since he arrived in England, believes he is happy at Highbury.

"If he goes it's not because he has asked to go. If he wanted to he would have gone already," she told BBC Sport.

"I do not believe it is his wish to leave the UK.

"I know Patrick Vieira very well. I know the good life he has here, I know how highly in his esteem he holds Arsene Wenger and how much he loves working with him.

I know the kind of person he is and the kind of passion he has for Arsenal
Chantal Stanley
"He's captain of the team and he has a special relationship with the fans and he appreciates their love for him.

"His fiance is happy in the UK as well. I just cannot imagine him leaving Arsenal."

Reports have suggested the 28-year-old Vieira is tempted by the money on offer at Real.

But Stanley says: "He earns good money already. If he goes I don't think it will be of his own doing and not because of money.

"Of course, money is important to everyone but performance is very important to Pat.

"Pat has had a lot of offers in the past and turned them down to stay at Arsenal.

"I personally feel Pat is very loyal to Arsenal.

"He told me something very sweet one day, he said 'If I'm rich enough I would one day love to buy Arsenal'.

"I might be wrong and Pat might have had a fantastic offer but I would be surprised. I just don't think so."

Vieira has been linked with a move away from Highbury for the past few summers.

He signed a new contract last season that will keep him at Highbury for another three years, but that has not prevented the speculation continuing about his future.

"Every year I hear Real Madrid," Stanley added. "I remember last time he went to Madrid shortly after Makelele had a new child.

"The press saw him in the airport and went mad saying 'Vieira is coming to Madrid'.

He's a player worth a lot of money and maybe Arsenal need to sell him
Chantal Stanley
"Pat laughed and said 'all I was doing was visiting his friend Claude Makelele and his baby'.

"All this speculation is not new. Before he renewed his contract he knew a lot of people wanted him around the world. He had many opportunities.

"He could have gone anywhere he wanted but he stayed at Arsenal.

"But this is only my opinion and maybe he will sign for Real Madrid tomorrow.

"He's a player worth a lot of money and maybe Arsenal need to sell him while they can.

"Maybe he wants to play with Zinedine Zidane, maybe he wants the bigger picture.

"People change but I just can't see it. I just cannot imagine it."

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